HEBRON- More than 20 armed men surrounded buses and train cars full of people at the Buckeye Scenic Railroad station in Hebron. While it looked like something out of a Hollywood movie set, or someone’s worst nightmare, it was actually a day of field training for the 727 Counter- Terror Training Unit, which is a week long course for law enforcement led by Commander Scott Wagner, a Columbus State Community College professor.
Th e c o u r s e t r a i n s certified SWAT/Tactical o p e r a t o r s i n a i r c r a f t familiarization, tubular assault, hostage rescue, and negotiation methods necessary to regain control of commandeered aircraft, school and commercial buses, and passenger trains.
L aw e n f o r c eme n t agencies from all over the nation took part, including the Ottawa Kansas PD; Franklin County, Kansas She r i ff ‘s Depa r tment ; Columbus, Ohio PD and SWAT; Franklin County, Ohio SWAT; Miami-Metro Dade SWAT; Missouri State Police SWAT; Ogden, Utah SWAT; Licking County Ohio Sheriff’s Department SWAT; and the US Marine Corps.
The training included advanced firearms, bus and train assault tactics, aircraft safety and security, AMTRAK P a s s e n g e r Train Overview, History of Air Piracy, close quarters defensive attacks, aircraft b omb eme r g e n c i e s , eme rg e n c y p a s s e n g e r evacuation, and aircraft assault. The following day, the class engaged in aircraft containment training at the Columbus State Aviation Maintenance Facility at Bolton Field Airport in Columbus.
Wagner said the law enforcement officerslearned skills such as literally learning how to hang on to their guns in a confrontation- -long machine guns can be grabbed and yanked away by an aggressor under certain circumstances. The law enforcement officials also learned how to deal with firing guns within close proximity of each other, even if the target is distant. It’s one of those things, s a i d Wa g n e r that sounds easy to do, but can be surprisingly difficultin chaotic situations. Guns used in the training only shoot nonlethal plastic BBs.
At Hebron, the trainees learned the correct procedure for a containing a school bus, a public transit bus, and train cars in the event they are taken over by terrorists. Members of the Columbus State Community College police academy acted as innocent passengers. “You can’t just grab people off the street as extras,” said Wagner, adding that “extras” are witness to tactics and maneuvers that must remain military secrets.
Wagner’s next training class is in October, but this was likely the first and last field training session at the Buckeye Scenic Railroad site. Mark Cristenberry, the railroad’s executive director, said the site may be cleared and replaced by a bicycle trail on the old railbed. The field training will likely relocate to the Hocking Scenic Railway in Southern Ohio. “It’s not as convenient for us,” said Wagner, but it’s the closest site with an available train.